Google just updated text messaging for Android, and it completely changed the way I text

 

Google just updated text messaging for Android, and it completely changed the way I text

So I was pretty excited to hear that Messages for Android now has its own web client, accessible from any web browser. It’s called Messages for web, naturally:

Messages for Web (Messages for Android)Google

In short, Messages for web lets Android users text message seamlessly from any computer with a web browser. It’s super easy to set up, and even syncs in real time between phone and computer.

I’ve been using it for nearly a week at this point, and it’s fundamentally changed how I communicate.

Here’s why:

First, setting it up: It’s a snap!


Ben Gilbert / Business Insider / Google

Here’s how you set up Android text messaging on the web:

Step 1: Open Messages on your (Android) phone.
Step 2: Tap the three dots in the upper right corner, and select “Messages for web.”
Step 3: Navigate to the Messages for website on your favorite web browser.
Step 4: Scan the QR code using your phone.

And you’re in.

If you want the computer you’re using to remember your phone, there’s an option to select that from the web browser window.

If you’re not seeing the Messages for web option in Messages just yet, check back in a few days — Google is rolling out the update over time.

I’ve stopped knee-jerk responding to every text message buzz in my pocket.

I’ve begun ignoring the buzzes in my pocket, and it’s been a massive relief.

As someone who spends most of my time at a computer, I feel especially silly holding up a smartphone screen in front of that computer.

Eventually, I click over to the Messages for web tab in my browser and see what I’ve been missing: group texts with friends to get back to, messages from my partner, an alert from Verizon that my autopay went through successfully.

Important stuff, no doubt, but stuff that doesn’t require an immediate, “Stop everything!” response. Instead, I ignore the buzzes, find a natural end point to whatever I’m doing, then catch up on messages I’ve been missing.

It’s a subtle change with massive implications — I’ve been knee-jerk responding to text message pocket vibrations for over 10 years now.

But there’s something about having all my text messages in a browser window, waiting for me, that changed how I look at them: They’re just instant message windows now, nothing more than the AOL Instant Messengers and Facebook Messengers of the world.

It’s obvious, I realize. They’re all just messaging software in the broadest sense. But text messages have maintained the top spot in my personal hierarchy of prioritization. Messages for web is helping me put the space between myself and text messages that I didn’t even realize I needed.

Not having to switch between phone and computer while working is a huge time saver.

Not having to switch between phone and computer while working is a huge time saver.
Since I write about technology at a major publication in 2018, I use a MacBook Air with my phone sitting next to it. I don’t wear a name tag.
 Jacques Brinon/AP Images

Switching between a phone and a keyboard is massively disruptive. Moreover, as stated previously, it makes me feel ridiculous to pick up a smartphone solely for one type of messaging while I’m sitting at a powerful computer.

Having Messages for web makes text message communication a part of my workflow.

I’m free to ignore the buzzes in my pocket specifically because I know the messages they represent are easily tackled in a browser tab. Why bother looking?

Messages for web seamlessly syncs between phone and computer, instantly.

Ben Gilbert / Business Insider / Google

The way that Messages for Android works is identical to the way Messages for web works. You can send images, and emoji, and links, and GIFs, and there are even a handful of silly secret commands.

If someone sends you media, you can download it locally to your computer (and vice versa — it’s super easy to send your friends all the dumb GIFs you found before they woke up).

Messages for web works exactly as well as Google’s many other excellent services, like Google Docs, Calendar, Mail, and Keep. It is genuinely impressive how quick and easy it is to use Messages for web.

And yes, you can text message anyone with Messages for web, just like you would with your phone normally. It actually uses your phone to send the messages — there’s no way to use Messages for web without your phone close by.

This new look at the Pixel 3 XL’s leaked design is going to make Android fans much happier.

pixel-3-black

Of all the hotly anticipated new smartphones still set to be released over the course of 2018, Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the furthest from becoming a reality. The LG G7 ThinQ and HTC U12+ are both in the process of rolling out now, and Motorola has some launches coming soon as well. Then the next big phone reveal will be Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, which will be followed by the even more eagerly anticipated release of Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup. There, we’ll likely see three new iPhone X successors launch, including an “iPhone X 2,” a larger “iPhone X Plus” with a 6.5-inch OLED display, and a new mid-range model with the iPhone X’s design but a much lower price point. That third new iPhone model, which will reportedly feature a 6.1-inch LCD screen, will likely be Apple’s most popular new iPhone in 2018 thanks to the new, lower price tag.

Finally, after all that is said and done, Google is expected to release its new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL sometime in October 2018. They won’t be the best-selling Android smartphones of the year — not by a long shot. But Google’s new Pixel phones are always the choice of hardcore Android fans who want a pure Android experience and instant access to big Android software updates the moment they’re released.

2018 is shaping up to be a somewhat controversial year for Google’s Pixel lineup since the larger and more desirable Pixel 3 XL is expected to copy the iPhone X’s notch design, and hardcore Android fans inherently hate anything and everything Apple does. Luckily for Android fanboys, however, Google likely has a solution in store to appease them, and we might have just gotten our first look at that solution in action thanks to a recent leak.

Earlier this week, the world may have gotten its first taste at the designs Google plans to use on its upcoming Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL flagship smartphones. That taste came courtesy of a photo that purportedly showed two screen protectors, one for the upcoming Pixel 3 and a second for the larger Pixel 3 XL phablet. Now, seeing screen protectors obviously isn’t the same as seeing the phones themselves, but if they’re genuine they do show us the design Google plans to use on its new Pixel phones. Here’s that leaked image, in case you missed it the first time around:

As you can see, the screen protectors indicate that Google plans to decrease the size of the bezels on its new Pixel 3 lineup this year. Both new models will still have a “chin” bezel below the displays, and the smaller Pixel 3 will also apparently have a somewhat large bezel above the screen. But the bigger Pixel 3 XL design shown in this leak uses Apple’s iPhone X notch design at the top of the screen in order to maximize display real estate.

Again, there’s no way at the moment to confirm that this design is accurate. That said, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. So many Android phones have copied Apple’s notch that Google actually baked notch support right into Android P, the company’s big 2018 update set to be released later this year. Pixel phones are always a showcase of the latest and greatest Android features, so it stands to reason that Google would want to showcase the notch on at least one of its 2018 Pixel phones.

Based on the leak above, a cell phone blog cooked up renders of what Google’s new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL should look like when they launch. There’s a very good chance that those renders will end up being our first look at Google’s new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL designs, though we obviously cannot confirm that for the time being. We showed you the renders on Tuesday, but here’s another look:

The smaller Pixel 3 has a design that is somewhat dated thanks to those big bezels above and below the screen, but the Pixel 3 XL looks just as sleek as any other recent Android flagship phone. It does clone the iPhone X’s notch though, which is something that hardcore Android fans haven’t been happy about with regard to all the other recent phones that copy Apple’s design. Of course, many of those phones also offer a related feature that Apple does not: The ability to hide the notch.

Phones like the LG G7 ThinQ and OnePlus 6 include a setting in the phone’s software to hide the notch by making the background black. Then, only status bar icons and notification icons are displayed on either side of the notch. There’s a very good chance that Google will offer this option as well, and now a Reddit user named “fondantsnail” has created a Pixel 3 XL render that shows us what the phone might look like with the notch hidden:

Image Source: fondantsnail, Reddit

The render on the left shows us Google’s rumored Pixel 3 XL design with the notch enabled in the phone’s software. Then on the right, we can see what the phone might look like with the notch hidden in the software. Will this be enough to appease Android fans who inherently hate anything that even resembles an Apple product? Only time will tell, but our guess is they’ll happily look past the iPhone X’s notch at the top of the Pixel 3 XL’s screen in order to get their hands on the latest and greatest Google phone.

It’s alive! Image SEO is back from the dead

In the wake of Google’s removal of the ‘view image’ button, contributor Anthony Muller polled top news and entertainment sites to share their Google image traffic data. The results? Overwhelmingly positive — image search is back.

Image search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing attributes associated with images.

The file size, file name, alt attributes, captions, XML sitemap inclusion and structured data on images all play a role in the visibility of images within search engines.

All image traffic from search took a huge hit in January of 2013, when Google decided to add the “view image” button, content providers complained of drastic traffic declines across many verticals. From a study done by Define Media Group:

These declines were even more drastic for large enterprise-level brands that had spent considerable effort optimizing their image catalogs, content management system (CMS), captions and eXtensible markup language (XML) sitemaps for the search engines.

This decline was due to searchers who clicked “view image” being sent to a page with only the image asset and not to the site hosting or licensing the image when using Google image search.

Getty bites back

Approximately three years after Google added the “view image” button, Getty images filed an anti-competition complaint with the European Commission (EC) against the search giant. The gist of the complaint was that Google was using Getty images in a way that was diverting users from Getty’s website.

Fast forward to February 14, 2018 (Valentine’s Day), and it appears that Google blinked.

Google had reversed their stance and as of February 15, 2018, removed the “view image” button. A message from Google SearchLiaison tweeted confirmation that these changes (view images) came about due to the settlement with Getty Images.

Image SEO rises again

It has been fewer than 90 days since Google made the change, and I was chomping at the bit to see just how immediate the effects would be. I reached out to a number of different properties across different worldwide verticals and asked them to share their Google image traffic data.

The response to my data requests was very positive. Overall, I compiled the percentage increases from 58 different properties worldwide.

These increases were from Google images pre- and post-February 14, 2018. All sites fell into one of three different verticals, entertainment, photography and news, with a large majority being news-oriented. All sites surveyed have significantly large catalogs of images (over 100,000).

Since the only number reported from all sites was a percentage increase in image traffic from Google, it was the only number I could properly find the mean increase for at this time.

The overall data from the 58 different sites, shows an average of a 37 percent increase in clicks from Google image search.

In the image traffic data below, we can see how a single enterprise-sized entertainment site with millions of images spiked for approximately an additional 600,000 visitors from Google images every month. While this was on the higher end of the mean increase, the 47 percent seen below is pretty indicative of how most saw their traffic increase post-Valentine’s Day, with some variations.

Take note of how the impressions and position remain relatively unchanged, while the click-through rate (CTR) and clicks spike:

Some properties were generous enough to go on the record with the increases they have witnessed.

Dylan Howell from Stocksy.com reports on their Google traffic on over 1 million images after the change:

From recent data, we can see that this change greatly improved the rate of viewers visiting our site from these (image) results pages. The number of clicks from these pages to our site increased by over 50 percent from previous levels.

Serban Enache, CEO of Dreamstime, reports that his company’s traffic from Google images increased by approximately 30 percent to their catalog of 75 million images. He added:

We also saw a 10 percent increase in conversions, so this traffic previously downloaded images from Google Images. Since they purchased a commercial license afterwards, we can safely assume their past downloads were copyright infringements.

Both Stocksy and Dreamstime commented that the changes were “positive” for both site owners and photographers. As a content creator and a firsthand witness to the traffic devastation for some clients, I wholeheartedly agree with them.

Some users of image search were surprisingly upset at the change and within a week, Chrome extensions were popping up in the Chrome web store which promised to return the “view image” functionality for those who want it. I don’t quite understand the need for the button, since right-click functionality still exists to open images in a new tab, but I guess I am just old-school.

Can what was lost be fully regained?

If many sites lost 70 percent of their image search traffic in 2013, why aren’t we seeing similar increases? It is anyone’s guess, but could be, in part, from other engines (Bing, DuckDuckGo) still using the “view image” functionality. From Duck Duck Go:

In addition, I have seen a reluctance from many clients to spend resources on image optimization post-2013. They just didn’t feel that the benefit or traffic would be worth the resource cost. This lack of attention or resources placed into image optimization could have stunted the rebound as well.

One thing is for certain. It is time to reprioritize image SEO in-house or for clients taking a lackadaisical approach to optimizing images in the wake of the 2013 Google change. The upside will be far greater for those who are already poised to benefit from the changes.

The Ultimate Guide to WordPress and GDPR Compliance – Everything You Need to Know

GDPR-general-data-protection-regulation. Internet-business-safety.

This is a concise, simple explanation of GDPR brought to you by Syed Balkhi and his Editorial Staff of WordPress experts.

 

Are you confused by GDPR, and how it will impact your WordPress site? GDPR, short for General Data Protection Regulation, is a European Union law that you have likely heard about. We have received dozens of emails from users asking us to explain GDPR in plain English and share tips on how to make your WordPress site GDPR compliant. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about GDPR and WordPress (without the complex legal stuff).

 

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers. Nothing on this website should be considered legal advice.

To help you easily navigate through our ultimate guide to WordPress and GDPR Compliance, we have created a table of content below:

Table of Content

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union (EU) law taking effect on May 25, 2018. The goal of GDPR is to give EU citizens control over their personal data and change the data privacy approach of organizations across the world.

What is GDPR?

You’ve likely gotten dozens of emails from companies like Google and others regarding GDPR, their new privacy policy, and bunch of other legal stuff. That’s because the EU has put in hefty penalties for those who are not in compliance.

Fines

Basically after May 25th, 2018, businesses that are not in compliance with GDPR’s requirement can face large fines up to 4% of a company’s annual global revenue OR €20 million (whichever is greater). This is enough reason to cause wide-spread panic among businesses around the world.

This brings us to the big question that you might be thinking about:

Does GDPR apply to my WordPress site?

The answer is YES. It applies to every business, large and small, around the world (not just in the European Union).

If your website has visitors from European Union countries, then this law applies to you.

But don’t panic, this isn’t the end of the world.

While GDPR has the potential to escalate to those high level of fines, it will start with a warning, then a reprimand, then a suspension of data processing, and if you continue to violate the law, then the large fines will hit.

GDPR Fines and Penalties

The EU isn’t some evil government that is out to get you. Their goal is to protect consumers, average people like you and me from reckless handling of data / breaches because it’s getting out of control.

The maximum fine part in our opinion is largely to get the attention of large companies like Facebook and Google, so this regulation is NOT ignored. Furthermore, this encourage companies to actually put more emphasis on protecting the rights of people.

Once you understand what is required by GDPR and the spirit of the law, then you will realize that none of this is too crazy. We will also share tools / tips to make your WordPress site GDPR compliant.

What is required under GDPR?

The goal of GDPR is to protect user’s personally identifying information (PII) and hold businesses to a higher standard when it comes to how they collect, store, and use this data.

The personal data includes: name, emails, physical address, IP address, health information, income, etc.

GDPR Personal Data

While the GDPR regulation is 200 pages long, here are the most important pillars that you need to know:

Explicit Consent – if you’re collecting personal data from an EU resident, then you must obtain explicit consent that’s specific and unambiguous. In other words, you can’t just send unsolicited emails to people who gave you their business card or filled out your website contact form because they DID NOT opt-in for your marketing newsletter (that’s called SPAM by the way, and you shouldn’t be doing that anyways).

For it to be considered explicit consent, you must require a positive opt-in (i.e no pre-ticked checkbox), contain clear wording (no legalese), and be separate from other terms & conditions.

Rights to Data – you must inform individuals where, why, and how their data is processed / stored. An individual has the right to download their personal data and an individual also has the right to be forgotten meaning they can ask for their data to be deleted.

This will make sure that when you hit Unsubscribe or ask companies to delete your profile, then they actually do that (hmm, go figure). I’m looking at you Zenefits, still waiting for my account to be deleted for 2 years and hoping that you stop sending me spam emails just because I made the mistake of trying out your service.

Breach Notification – organizations must report certain types of data breaches to relevant authorities within 72 hours, unless the breach is considered harmless and poses no risk to individual data. However if a breach is high-risk, then the company MUST also inform individuals who’re impacted right away.

This will hopefully prevent cover-ups like Yahoo that was not revealed until the acquisition.

Data Protection Officers – if you are a public company or process large amounts of personal information, then you must appoint a data protection officer. Again this is not required for small businesses. Consult an attorney if you’re in doubt.

GDPR Data Protection Officer

To put it in plain English, GDPR makes sure that businesses can’t go around spamming people by sending emails they didn’t ask for. Businesses can’t sell people’s data without their explicit consent (good luck getting this consent). Businesses have to delete user’s account and unsubscribe them from email lists if the user asks you to do that. Businesses have to report data breaches and overall be better about data protection.

Sounds pretty good, in theory at least.

Ok so now you are probably wondering what do you need to do to make sure that your WordPress site is GDPR compliant.

Well, that really depends on your specific website (more on this later).

Let us start by answering the biggest question that we’ve gotten from users:

Is WordPress GDPR Compliant?

Yes, as of WordPress 4.9.6, the WordPress core software is GDPR compliant. WordPress core team has added several GDPR enhancements to make sure that WordPress is GDPR compliant. It’s important to note that when we talk about WordPress, we’re talking about self-hosted WordPress.org (see the difference: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org).

Having said that, due to the dynamic nature of websites, no single platform, plugin or solution can offer 100% GDPR compliance. The GDPR compliance process will vary based on the type of website you have, what data you store, and how you process data on your site.

Ok, so you might be thinking what does this mean in plain English?

Well, by default WordPress 4.9.6 now comes with the following GDPR enhancement tools:

Comments Consent

WordPress Comments Opt-in for GDPR

By default, WordPress used to store the commenters name, email and website as a cookie on the user’s browser. This made it easier for users to leave comments on their favorite blogs because those fields were pre-populated.

Due to GDPR’s consent requirement, WordPress has added the comment consent checkbox. The user can leave a comment without checking this box. All it would mean is that they would have to manually enter their name, email, and website every time they leave a comment.

Data Export and Erase Feature

WordPress Data Handling - GDPR

WordPress offers site owners the ability to comply with GDPR’s data handling requirements and honor user’s request for exporting personal data as well as removal of user’s personal data.

The data handling features can be found under the Tools menu inside WordPress admin.

Privacy Policy Generator

WordPress Privacy Policy Generator for GDPR

WordPress now comes with a built-in privacy policy generator. It offers a pre-made privacy policy template and offers you guidance in terms of what else to add, so you can be more transparent with users in terms of what data you store and how you handle their data.

These three things are enough to make a default WordPress blog GDPR compliant. However, it is very likely that your website has additional features that will also need to be in compliance.

Areas on Your Website that are Impacted by GDPR

As a website owner, you might be using various WordPress plugins that store or process data like contact formsanalyticsemail marketingonline storemembership sites, etc.

Depending on which WordPress plugins you are using on your website, you would need to act accordingly to make sure that your website is GDPR compliant.

A lot of the best WordPress plugins have already gone ahead and added GDPR enhancement features. Let’s take a look at some of the common areas that you would need to address:

Google Analytics

Like most website owners, you’re likely using Google Analytics to get website stats. This means that it is possible that you’re collecting or tracking personal data like IP addresses, user IDs, cookies and other data for behavior profiling. To be GDPR compliant, you need to do one of the following:

  1. Anonymize the data before storage and processing begins
  2. Add an overlay to the site that gives notice of cookies and ask users for consent prior to tracking

Both of these are fairly difficult to do if you’re just pasting Google Analytics code manually on your site. However, if you’re using MonsterInsights, the most popular Google Analytics plugin for WordPress, then you’re in luck.

They have released an EU compliance addon that helps automate the above process. MonsterInsights also has a very good blog post about all you need to know about GDPR and Google Analytics (this is a must read if you’re using Google Analytics on your site).

MonsterInsights EU Compliance Addon

Contact Forms

If you are using a contact form in WordPress, then you may have to add extra transparency measures especially if you’re storing the form entries or using the data for marketing purposes.

Below are the things you might want to consider for making your WordPress forms GDPR compliant:

  • Get explicit consent from users to store their information.
  • Get explicit consent from users if you are planning to use their data for marketing purposes (i.e adding them to your email list).
  • Disable cookies, user-agent, and IP tracking for forms.
  • Make sure you have a data-processing agreement with your form providers if you are using a SaaS form solution.
  • Comply with data-deletion requests.
  • Disable storing all form entries (a bit extreme and not required by GDPR). You probably shouldn’t do this unless you know exactly what you’re doing.

The good part is that if you’re using WordPress plugins like WPFormsGravity FormsNinja Forms, Contact Form 7, etc, then you don’t need a Data Processing Agreement because these plugins DO NOT store your form entries on their site. Your form entries are stored in your WordPress database.

Simply adding a required consent checkbox with clear explanation should be good enough for you to make your WordPress forms GDPR compliant.

WPForms, the contact form plugin we use on WPBeginner, has added several GDPR enhancements to make it easy for you to add a GDPR consent field, disable user cookies, disable user IP collection, and disable entries with a single click.

GDPR Form Fields in WPForms

Email Marketing Opt-in Forms

Similar to contact forms, if you have any email marketing opt-in forms like popups, floating bars, inline-forms, and others, then you need to make sure that you’re collecting explicit consent from users before adding them to your list.

This can be done with either:

  1. Adding a checkbox that user has to click before opt-in
  2. Simply requiring double-opt-in to your email list

Top lead-generation solutions like OptinMonster has added GDPR consent checkboxes and other necessary features to help you make your email opt-in forms compliant. You can read more about the GDPR strategies for marketers on the OptinMonster blog.

WooCommerce / Ecommerce

If you’re using WooCommerce, the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress, then you need to make sure your website is in compliance with GDPR.

The WooCommerce team has prepared a comprehensive guide for store owners to help them be GDPR compliant.

Retargeting Ads

If your website is running retargeting pixels or retargeting ads, then you will need to get user’s consent. You can do this by using a plugin like Cooke Notices.

Best WordPress Plugins for GDPR Compliance

There are several WordPress plugins that can help automate some aspects of GDPR compliance for you. However, no plugin can offer 100% compliance due to the dynamic nature of websites.

Beware of any WordPress plugin that claims to offer 100% GDPR compliance. They likely don’t know what they’re talking about, and it’s best for you to avoid them completely.

Below is our list of recommended plugins for facilitating GDPR compliance:

  • MonsterInsights – if you’re using Google Analytics, then you should use their EU compliance addon.
  • WPForms – by far the most user-friendly WordPress contact form plugin. They offer GDPR fields and other features.
  • Cookies Notice – popular free plugin to add an EU cookie notice. Integrates well with top plugins like MonsterInsights and others.
  • Delete Me – a free plugin that allows users to automatically delete their profile on your site.
  • OptinMonster – advanced lead generation software that offers clever targeting features to boost conversions while being GDPR compliant.
  • Shared Counts – instead of loading the default share buttons which add tracking cookies, this plugin load static share buttons while displaying share counts.

We will continue to monitor the plugin ecosystem to see if any other WordPress plugin stands out and offer substantial GDPR compliance features.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re ready or not, GDPR will go in effect on May 25, 2018. If your website is not compliant before then, don’t panic. Just continue to work towards compliance and get it done asap.

The likelihood of you getting a fine the day after this rule goes in effect are pretty close to zero because the European Union’s website states that first, you’ll get a warning, then a reprimand and fines are the last step if you fail to comply and knowingly ignore the law.

The EU is not out to get you. They’re doing this to protect user’s data and restore people’s trust in online businesses. As the world goes digital, we need these standards. With the recent data breaches of large companies, it’s important that these standards are adopted globally.

It will be good for all involved. These new rules will help boost consumer confidence and in turn help grow your business.

We hope this article helped you learn about WordPress and GDPR compliance. We will do our best to keep it updated as more information or tools get released.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Additional Resources

Legal Disclaimer / Disclosure

We are not lawyers. Nothing on this website should be considered legal advice. Due to the dynamic nature of websites, no single plugin or platform can offer 100% legal compliance. When in doubt, it’s best to consult a specialist internet law attorney to determine if you are in compliance with all applicable laws for your jurisdictions and your use cases.

WPBeginner founder, Syed Balkhi, is also the co-founder of OptinMonsterWPForms, and MonsterInsights.

Samsung is working on a phone design that would finally be more exciting than any iPhone

New Exploit: PDF Files Can Be Abused to Steal Windows Credentials

pdf-files-can-be-abused-to-steal-windows-credentials

PDF files can be weaponized by malicious actors to steal Windows credentials (NTLM hashes) without any user interaction and only by opening a file, according to Assaf Baharav, a security researcher with cyber-security company CheckPoint.

This means a curious end user who opens a PDF attachment they did not ask for can be pnwed in about 15 seconds. Good thing this nasty is not in the wild just yet…

Baharav published research this week showing how a malicious actor could take advantage of features natively found in the PDF standard to steal NTLM hashes, the format in which Windows stores user credentials.

“The PDF specification allows loading remote content for the GoToE & GoToR entries,” Baharav told Bleeping Computer. More detail and links at the KnowBe4 blog:
https://blog.knowbe4.com/pdf-files-can-be-abused-to-steal-windows-credentials

5 Reasons Your Business Needs HTTPS

ssl

5 Reasons Your Business Needs HTTPS

The rules have changed about what good website security means—starting with a new minimum requirement for all website pages to support encrypted connections. The good news is you’ll gain other valuable benefits by adhering to this new standard. First, let’s get on the same page by reviewing a few basics.

What’s HTTPS?

When your customers land on a web page that’s not protected by any type of SSL Certificate they’ll see http:// at the beginning of the website address in the browser bar. This used to be perfectly fine unless your webpage involved a login ID, password, form or payments. Enter the era of mega cybercrime.

HTTP has one glaring flaw—it’s not secure. Any information transmitted via an HTTP connection is vulnerable to being tampered with, misused or stolen. Your visitors deserve to know any data they share with you is safe from prying eyes.

Installing an SSL Certificate changes the browser bar address to https:// to clearly show visitors the connection is encrypted, meaning the server is authenticated and data is protected in transit. No wonder web browsers have made HTTPS the new standard for website security.

HTTPS Is Good for Your Bottom Line

Enabling encrypted connections is one great reason to protect your website with an SSL Certificate.  But, it’s not the only reason. Here are some other ways HTTPS brings value to your business:

  1. Speeds Up Performance—Being the slow kid on the block and the last one picked for dodgeball is a bummer. Being slow online could cost you everything. HTTP is being replaced by a newer faster version—HTTP/2. Encrypted connections are required to unlock the latest speed and security features.
  2. Increases Search Engine Traffic—Google includes SSL as a ranking factor. How’d you like to boost your search visibility up to 5%? Be found above the competition by encrypting every page of your website.
  3. Enables Mobile Options—Salesforce reports 71% of marketers believe mobile is core to their business. Mobile’s most popular features—geolocation, motion orientation, microphone, fullscreen and camera access—require HTTPS to be enabled by most browsers
  4. Protects Your Brand Reputation—A recent CA Security Council Report shows a mere 2% of customers would proceed past the “Not Secure” warnings that are due to kick in July 1 for all web pages without HTTPS connections. Show visitors your brand values their security by protecting your website with an SSL Certificate.
  5. Delivers a Seamless Experience—Don’t let visitors engage with several pages on your site only to be get broadsided with a “Not Secure” warning on pages you haven’t protected. They’ll reward you for taking the extra steps to give them an end-to-end encrypted experience.

 

Identity Validation Matters, Too

HTTPS is no longer optional if you want to build relationships and a business online. The good news it adds a lot of value to your business. But, SSL Certificates do more than enable HTTPS.
They also authenticate or validate your identity so visitors know it’s really you on the other end of their connection. We’re here to help you find the right level of validation based on your goals.

Click here to learn more and request pricing for the purchase and installation of your SSL Certificate.

HP goes up against the iPad Pro with its $599 Chromebook x2

HP goes up against the iPad Pro with its $599 Chromebook x2

Image: HP

Two weeks ago, Acer announced the first tablet running Chrome OS. And today, HP is announcing the second — and it’s a lot higher end.

It’s called the Chromebook x2, and it’s very much designed to go after the iPad Pro. It has a 12.3-inch screen (the larger iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch screen), docks with a keyboard cover, and supports stylus input.

The big benefit here is that the full package is available for much, much cheaper: the Chromebook x2 costs $599 in its base configuration and comes bundled with the keyboard cover and stylus. The iPad starts at $649 for the (smaller) tablet on its own, and you’ll have to spend $1,067 if you want the 12.9-inch model with a keyboard and pen. So if you’re thinking about using a tablet (with a non-traditional operating system) as a portable computer, HP will get you there for way cheaper.

In a briefing, HP also emphasized that the keyboard was designed to hold firmly enough to the tablet that it should feel like a clamshell laptop when the two are connected. I haven’t seen the Chromebook x2 in person, but HP’s images make it look relatively nice — like a combination of Google’s Pixelbook, with its metal and glossy white top, and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, with its soft and colorful keyboard.

The Chromebook x2 seems to have a lot of potential, but there are some big questions — and not just around whether the hardware is as good as it looks. The real open question is whether Chrome OS is cut out to work on a tablet. Google has been overhauling the operating system to work better with touchscreens for a couple years now, but it’s still very much a desktop system (it’s based around the Chrome desktop browser and its display of desktop websites, after all). That’s likely to limit how useful it is, especially in comparison to an iPad, which was designed for touch from the ground up.

And while the Chromebook x2 looks like a bargain compared to the iPad, it’s expensive for a Chromebook, which people often buy for around $300. At $600, you enter into the world of lower-cost Windows computers, which this product will have to compete with, too.

HP plans to launch the Chromebook x2 sometime in June. And from the looks of it, we could see a few more Chrome OS tablets before then.

Everyone Wants A Secure Web

A secure web is here to stay.

by Emily Schechter, Chrome Security Product Manager

For the past several years, we’ve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt HTTPS encryption. And within the last year, we’ve also helped users understand that HTTP sites are not secure by gradually marking a larger subset of HTTP pages as “not secure”. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

In Chrome 68, the omnibox will display “Not secure” for all HTTP pages.

Developers have been transitioning their sites to HTTPS and making the web safer for everyone. Progress last year was incredible, and it’s continued since then:

  • Over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected
  • Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected
  • 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default

Contact us today to make your visitors comfortable by securing your website.

Chrome is dedicated to making it as easy as possible to set up HTTPS. Mixed content audits are now available to help developers migrate their sites to HTTPS in the latest Node CLI version of Lighthouse, an automated tool for improving web pages. The new audit in Lighthouse helps developers find which resources a site loads using HTTP, and which of those are ready to be upgraded to HTTPS simply by changing the subresource reference to the HTTPS version.

Lighthouse is an automated developer tool for improving web pages.

Chrome’s new interface will help users understand that all HTTP sites are not secure, and continue to move the web towards a secure HTTPS web by default. HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and it unlocks both performance improvements and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP. Developers, check out our set-up guides to get started.

Here’s Everything New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel/XL and Pixel 2/XL

Here’s Everything New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel/XL and Pixel 2/XL

Here’s Everything New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel/XL and Pixel 2/XL

Google dropped a bombshell on us today—the first Android P Developer Preview. Widely expected to release this month, the first Android 9.0 builds are now available for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL. Unfortunately, support has been dropped for the Google Pixel C, Google Nexus 5X, and Google Nexus 6P. Android P Developer Preview 1 brings a plethora of changes to the mix, and in this article we’ll be diving in to list most of what we’ve found on the surface level.


What’s New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 series

Summary

Here’s a summary of all of the changes below in bullet point format. We recommend you take a cursory glance at this, but scroll down to see screenshots/videos and a description of each new change.

  • User Interface changes in Android P Developer Preview 1
    • New UI for settings/quick settings
    • New notification style for messages
    • New transition/notification expansion animations
    • Updated Pixel Launcher with voice search icon and more prominent dock
    • Battery saver no longer shows orange warning
    • Always on display shows battery info and centers notifications
    • New Easter Egg.
    • About phone screen now shows additional info in a popup window.
  • Quality of Life changes in Android P Developer Preview 1
    • Built-in screenshot editor.
    • Screenshot button in power menu
    • Text selection zoom (like iOS)
    • Battery saver can now be scheduled.
    • Do Not Disturb has been simplified down to a single mode
    • Volume buttons now control media volume by default
    • Adaptive Brightness is now much more useful as it actually changes the base brightness level
    • Hotspot can be turned off automatically if no devices are connected
    • Rotation can be locked to landscape mode
    • Multi-Bluetooth HFP/A2DP support
    • Individual Wi-Fi networks can now be set to metered/unmetered
    • Private DNS (DNS-over-TLS)
    • Vibration controls in Accessibility Settings
    • Accessibility option to disable all animations
    • SysTrace tool is now built-in
    • Recently posted notifications are now shown in notification settings

UI Changes

Material Design 2?

Although it doesn’t have a name yet (we strongly believe it will be called Material Design 2), Android’s user interface has received a fresh coat of paint. The most notable areas where Android P has made changes are to the quick settings tiles (now vertically paginated rather than horizontally) and to the settings pages, but there are also more minor changes to the status bar that we should take note of.

As you can see in the screenshots above, the icons in settings all have distinct colors now. In comparison, the settings icons in Android Oreo were a dull, muted gray color. The quick settings toggles, meanwhile, are all now rounded and are blue when enabled. Unfortunately, we’ve lost the ability to expand quick settings tiles within the notification shade.

If you look at the status bar, it looks like the clock has been shifted to the left. This may be in preparation for more devices with a display notch (…maybe the Google Pixel 3?), but I like the idea as it makes the status bar icons/text seem more evenly distributed.

(Oh, and if you’ll notice, Night Light now tells you when it will turn on in its quick settings tile).

New Notification Style for Messages

This one may be a bit controversial. As you can see in the screenshots above, notifications have a new style. Full conversations can now be shown as can stickers and images. Smart replies are also there, similar to what the Reply app offers.

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

When you long-press on a notification, the buttons now show “stop notifications” or “keep showing.” A quick way to decide if you want notifications from an app without diving into settings.

New Transition Animations

This one is big, and almost immediately noticeable. There are new animations for transitioning between activities, and new animations for opening an activity from the notifications. We’ve captured them on video so you can see what they look like.

Media and USB Dialog Changes

A few more areas have gotten redesigned. The Bluetooth media output list can now show up as a popup when you press on the arrow key in the volume panel, and speaking of which, the volume panel now shows up on the side of the screen rather than up top! The USB settings page has also gotten a quick redesign.

Pixel Launcher

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

A very subtle change in the Pixel Launcher (which has already been ported to other devices) is that the search bar now has a microphone icon so you can start a voice search. The background is now also more prominent, so it’s clearer where the dock begins and the rest of the launcher ends.

Battery Saver No Longer Shows Orange Warning Bar

Yes! One of the biggest visual annoyances is now gone. Previously if you enabled Battery Saver mode, it would enable an ugly orange overlay on top of the navigation and status bar. This is no longer the case in Android P.

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 Always on Display Now Shows Battery Info, Adds Divider Between Time/Notifications

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are the first Google phones to have an always on display feature. In Android Oreo, the feature only shows you the current time, date, whether an alarm is set, and icons from current notifications. It also supported the phone’s “Now Playing” feature which added the title of the currently playing background song. At the very, very bottom, now Android P also adds information about the device’s charging state/battery life. Furthermore, there’s a new divider in between the time and notification information. Finally, the notifications themselves are centered.

 

Android P Easter Egg and New About Phone Behavior

Well, there’s a new Easter Egg. It’s definitely not the final thing, as the official name for P has not yet been confirmed. Something more interesting is the new behavior for the About Phone page. Information is now shown in a popup window when you tap on certain elements.


Quality of Life Improvements

Screenshot Editor

This is something that Android has sorely needed for quite some time. Before, if you wanted to edit a screenshot on a Google phone, you would have to install a third-party screenshot editing app. Now, taking a screenshot shows a new “Edit” button which opens up a basic screenshot editor. (It should be noted that most device makers have had such a feature for awhile now).

Screenshot in Power Menu

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

No longer will you have to fumble around with key combinations to take a screenshot. It’s right there in the power menu!

Text Selection Zoom

When you use the text selector to move back and forth through text, it will now zoom in to better show the text you are scrolling through. Here’s a quick video:

Scheduled Battery Saver

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

By default, Android Oreo only allows you to schedule battery saver mode at 5 and 15% of remaining battery. Android P expands on that by giving you a slider to choose a precise battery level you want battery saver to activate on!

Do Not Disturb Simplification

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

The Do Not Disturb quick settings toggle now shows the duration activity, which is nice for you to quickly modify its state. They’ve gotten rid of the 3 modes, total silence, alarms only, and priority only, and instead there’s only a single mode that you can customize in settings.

Media Volume By Default

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

Rejoice! When you press the volume keys, media volume is now the default volume stream that is controlled! No more need to remap keys or use any funky workarounds! As for call volume, it is now separate, and only active when you’re in a call.

Adaptive Brightness Now Actually Changes the Base Brightness

Google’s Adaptive Brightness now appears to change the brightness percentage now, making it behave more like the previous Automatic Brightness feature. This means you won’t have to manually change the brightness when you go outside to even see the display!

Turn Off Hotspot Automatically if No Devices are Connected

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

This will be a welcome addition to the hotspot feature. You can now have hotspot automatically turn itself off if there are no devices currently connected. This will ensure you don’t drain your device’s battery when hotspot isn’t actively being used.

Thanks Jay Kapoor.

Rotation can now be Locked to Landscape Mode

This change is very, very subtle and easy to miss. I missed it initially, but one of our readers tipped us that if you disable “Auto-rotate” and try to flip the screen, a new navigation bar button will be shown which changes the orientation to landscape and locks it there. Previously, rotation lock would only lock the device to portrait mode. Here’s a quick video:

Thanks Jay Kapoor.

Multi-Bluetooth HFP/A2DP Support

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

A new developer option has been added which allows your device to connect to up to 5 Bluetooth Hands-Free or A2DP devices. This does not allow you to stream to multiple devices at the same time, but it will make switching between active Bluetooth connections much more seamless as you won’t have to wait for the disconnection/connection process each time.

Set Wi-Fi Network as Metered/Unmetered

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

If you are connected to a Wi-Fi network that is metered (AKA there’s a data limit), then you have to be careful with how much you download or upload. Android can automatically detect when a network is metered, but in those rare cases where it doesn’t, you can now manually specify a network as metered.

Private DNS (DNS-Over-TLS)

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

If you have a DNS that supports TLS, meaning the service won’t record the domains that you visit, then there’s a new setting you can change to enable a private DNS provider hostname.

Vibration Controls

Within Accessibility Settings there’s a new vibration control setting. This allows you to set whether or not you want vibrations on or off for ring & notifications, or for touch. You can also choose a low, medium, or high duration vibration.

Quickly Disable Animations

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

Also within Accessibility Settings is a setting that turns off all animations. We’re not sure how useful this will be since most of us know how to do so from Developer Options, but hey it’s there if you want a quick universal toggle.

SysTrace Tool

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

This one should interest only developers, but Google now offers a way to easily capture SysTrace from the device. No need to hook up your phone anymore. This will allow you to collect traces that you can then analyze later. This comes in the form of a new quick setting tile.

Last Shown Notifications

Android has always kept a record of notifications (in the notification log), but it has been hidden from users for years. In the notification settings, Android P will at least show a history of a handful of notifications, but it won’t show you the content. Instead, the aim is to have a brief record so you can remove access from a nasty notification that you accidentally dismissed.

Feature Flags to Test In-Development Settings

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

This might disappear in a subsequent release, but in developer settings you can toggle a few flags much like Google Chrome’s feature flags. Currently it’s not very useful, but this may include more in-development settings in the future.


The new release of Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL is massive. We’re doing our best to find everything we can, but it’s possible we might miss something. Please, if you install the update and notice something new that we haven’t already found, send us a tip and you could get a free month of XDA Ad-Free if we write an article based on your tip!

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